What to Expect Your First Semester of Community College

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What to Expect Your First Semester of Community College
Learn what to expect in terms of classes and student life in your first semester of community college.
Congratulations! Enrolling in your first semester of community college marks an important milestone in your professional career. Building your academic accomplishments and technical skills creates the springboard for your future working endeavors. 

However, for many students, the first semester of community college is not met with flying colors. In fact, according to 2007 research by the Policy Analysis for California Education (PACE), approximately six out of 10 community college freshmen with high school diplomas drop out after the first semester!   Therefore, it is important to understand what to expect in your first semester of community college; this will help with supporting your transition and long-term academic success. 
 
This video illustrates one student's experiences during her first semester at community college.
 
 
Choose the appropriate classes
 
Although you will most likely be asked to take placement tests, you will also have great freedom in choosing the classes to take at community college. It is important that you carefully evaluate your academic abilities – as well as your long-term interests – to determine what your first semester course load should be. 
 
 Are you looking to transfer to a four-year institution from your community college? If so, your first semester curriculum will be different than the student who is planning to enter into the workforce with an Associate’s degree. If your ultimate goal is to transfer to a four-year college, then it is important to begin planning within the first semester. You generally only want to take classes that will afford you transfer credit, while still meeting all
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The Value of Accreditation - Choosing Wisely
Learn how to evaluate colleges based on accreditation, and why it's important.
In the decision of choosing which college is right for you, the options abound. Many students find themselves choosing between community college, a technical college, or a four-year institution. Although all these institutions can provide a solid education, be aware that not all colleges are created equal. In fact, accreditation is one of the main elements that differentiate between colleges’ level of scholarly quality. 
 
What is accreditation?
 
Accreditation is an important distinction in the realm of colleges and universities. According to the US Department of Education, the purpose of accreditation is to certify that the education given by institutions meet national standards of quality. Therefore, if a college you are considering has national accreditation, then this demonstrates that the institution has met the standards of quality set forth by the US Department of Education. 
 
This video explains accreditation.
 

Fundamentally, accreditation ensures that you are obtaining a quality education – and for your future employers and graduate programs to recognize your education. If the college does not have accreditation, you may want to think twice about enrolling. 

Why accreditation is important

When you are choosing a college, accreditation is important for many factors – including the financial aid you can obtain and even the job you will get upon graduating. Subsequently, accreditation is an element of your college decision that cannot be taken lightly. If the institution you attend is not accredited, then you are subject to several disadvantages:   

Lack of government financial aid: Contingent upon schools participating in federal Title IV or state financial aid funding is

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Why High School Students Should Take Community College Classes
Learn the many reasons why high school students should take community college classes.
It is no secret that college admissions are becoming more competitive. As the children of the baby boomers era enter into their college years, the sheer number of applicants is overwhelming. 
 
Since 2000, each year has seen record numbers of applications. For example, for the University of California, 2007 saw more than 110,000 applications – which was a historically record breaking statistic.  According to NYU, their 2007 applications increased by 8.5% in 2007, which also marked record highs.      
 
How can you stand out from the crowd of 4.5 wielding valedictorians, speech and debate captains, and decathlon champions? The answer is quite easy: get competitive with a college edge – a community college edge, that is. 
 
Using community college classes to strengthen your application
 
College admission committees evaluate your overall application to answer one looming question: will this student fare well at our esteemed institution? Demonstrating your academic skills in high school classes, whether you are taking regular, honors, or AP courses, is certainly important. However, excelling at high school courses does not guarantee your ability to stay competitive at the college level.
 
Standing out from the crowd of applicants means demonstrating your academic prowess at a college level. You can easily make your application shine by taking courses at your local community college. With the variety of classes, you can take courses at night, online, or even on the weekend – making it easy to fit into your schedule.    
 
You should speak with your high school counselor to determine if the college courses you take will count as credit towards your requirements for
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High School Diploma vs. GED
Does it make a difference whether you earn your high school diploma or a GED? Grace Chen looks at the issue in detail.
The lack of a high school diploma, or its equivalent, precludes a college education and is a substantial barrier to compete successfully in the workforce. For students currently in high school, it is essential to see it through until graduation. Those who have already dropped out of high school need to obtain a GED in order to put their best foot forward in the workforce. This article compares high school diplomas and GEDs in terms of their acceptance by colleges and universities, the business world, and the military. The article also discusses how homeschooled high school graduates show that they have obtained a high school diploma or its equivalent.
 
 
Regular High School Diplomas
 
A high school diploma from a traditional bricks and mortar school that requires attendance in a classroom is the gold standard in demonstrating completion of high school and mastery of traditional high school skills. A high school diploma signifies that the holder has attended and successfully completed all the courses required by the applicable school district. A transcript of the courses taken and grades issued, a common requirement for college and job applications, can be furnished upon request.
 
Acceptance: Colleges and universities, businesses, and each branch of the United States military accept a regular high school diploma. In order to attend college, a high school diploma or GED is required for admission. Students who have a high school diploma and have demonstrated good grades will often be able
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Save $80K by First Attending Community College
Learn how you can save over $80,000 by first attending community college then transferring to a private institution.
With the dramatically rising costs of tuition, many families are turning towards the financially-savvy decision of starting on the higher education path first at a two-year community college.   Many universities, both public and private, have articulation agreements with local community colleges. Therefore, attending a community college for two years before transferring to a four-year institution can save significant amounts of money – while still providing you with an excellent bachelor’s degree from the university of your choice. 
 
According to the College Board, for the 2007 – 2008 school year, community college’s average tuition and fees are $2,360. This is in contrast to $6,185 at a public four-year institution, or $23,712 for a private four year institution. 
 
Calculating the specific academic savings
 
For example, let us calculate the savings if you begin your academic career at Pasadena City College, which has articulation transfer agreements with the public UC campuses and the private University of Southern California. 
 
If you are a resident of California and attend Pasadena City College full-time, which is based upon 12 units, then you have the following annual academic costs:
 
- Tuition and Fees: $508
 
- Books and school supplies: $1500
 
In contrast, at the private University of Southern California, you have the following full-time annual academic costs:
 
- Tuition and fees: $30,850
 
- Books: $1,000
 
At a public, University of California campus, the annual full-time academic costs for a California resident are:
 
-  Tuition and Fees: $8,385
 
- Books: 1,300 
 
If you attended Pasadena Community College for the first two years, your tuition and books would only cost $4,016. At a
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